Today it's up to the customer when they want to engage a salesperson. If I'm interested in buying something, I go to the web, I go to Twitter or Facebook, or LinkedIn, and I ask my friends and colleagues, and family members for advice. I go to a half-dozen websites and do research.
When I'm finally good and ready and I've built up my body of knowledge, I reach out, typically electronically through email, and say, “Hey, I'm interested to go to the next step,” and almost always the salesperson who calls me assumes I know nothing. Most organizations are still using traditional selling and service models that were developed decades ago. This needs to change, or your organization will suffer.
Just as online content is the primary driver for successful marketing and public relations, online content is quickly becoming a dominant driver for sales and service as well.
Restoring the Human Touch: The Compelling Power of Authenticity:
People want to do business with other people. That's been true since the beginning of time. A hundred years ago our great-grandparents knew the people who sold them hardware or shoes or chickens. There was a personal touch. If there was good service at a fair price and maybe a kind word and a smile, you had a business relationship that lasted for many years. However, during the past several decade's huge companies have been selling identical products to millions of people via mass media advertising on television, and in the process, many companies have lost the human touch. Many smaller companies adopted the mass media approach model for their own markets. Advertising agencies were hired to develop “messages.” Salespeople memorized scripts. Top executives fretted about financials, but not about customers.
Now, buyers can interact with anyone who is active on social media. They can see what companies are doing. Who is engaged? Who will talk to me? Does anyone care? We're back to a hundred years ago and the ability to converse with the person who is selling. What can you tell me about this bike? Is this wet-suit good for scuba diving too, or is it appropriate only for surfing? Which Antarctica expedition is best for me?
An authentic encounter with a representative from a company in a sales or service situation humanizes an organization after decades of sameness.
The Importance of Story:
The best businesses have an organizational story that underlies everything they do. For these outfits, that story and the resulting culture it builds mean that everybody—from the CEO and the executives to the salespeople and support staff, even the person who answers the telephone—are all delivering the same information.
By story, I don't mean making up a fairytale. No, rather the narrative should be a real and authentic account of what the organization is all about. People associated with the company should know these stories by heart and be able to convey them easily when the need arises. These might include a compelling account detailing how the company was founded. They could tell about employees who go out of their way to help customers or could explain how the company's products are the most expensive in the market and the reasons why.
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